Central’s strong finish, Hornets’ cold shooting decide outcome

File photo by Andrew Schroeder

LITTLE ROCK — The fifth-ranked Bryant Hornets held the second-rated Little Rock Central Tigers to a season low 56 points on Tuesday night. And you’d think that might be the crucial ingredient to knocking off the Tigers.

But the Hornets also scored a season low of 43 and came up short down the stretch. Central, on senior night, outscored Bryant 18-5 in the fourth quarter, which started with the game deadlocked at 38, to come away with a 56-43 win.

It was Bryant’s four loss of the season, all four of which have come against the top two teams — Central and North Little Rock — in the 6A-Central Conference. And all four games were close down to the wire.

Central’s Bryson Warren took over the game in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of his 20 points in the game. Cody Robinson, who had 5 in the fourth, finished with 10 points. Corey Camper added 9.

Camren Hunter paced the Hornets with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Will Diggins added 9, all in the first half. No other Bryant player scored more than 4.

“We held them in the 50’s,” noted Hornets head coach Mike Abrahamson. “If you hold them in the 50’s, you’ve got a chance to beat them. And, tonight, we’re only in the 40’s, a season low. We’re just not going to win like that.”

In fact, the Hornets were 0 for 16 from 3-point shots.

“We’re not going to win any games doing that,” Abrahamson said. “I mean, that’s part of our identity.”

Central scored the first 9 points of the fourth quarter, including 7 from Warren. Hunter hit a trio of free throws to keep the Hornets within 47-41 with 2:20 left but the Hornets only had one field goal in the final period and it, a reverse layup by Gabe George, came with 59 seconds left in the game.

By then, thanks to 3’s from Robinson and Warren, the Central lead had grown to 53-41.

“I thought we gave up too many drives but I’m thinking individual plays,” Abrahamson said. “I think over the course of the game, our defense did keep us in there. 

“It’s hard to maintain that level of defense when you’re not seeing the ball go through the basket,” he noted. “And we missed everything. We missed shots at the rim, shots in the lane. We missed 3’s. We missed a few free throws, four in a row at a crucial time when the game was really close. That could’ve gotten us going a little bit. 

“It was just a really rough offensive night,” the coach asserted. “And we didn’t turn the ball over. We only turned it over eight times. So, we’re getting the shots. I thought we got decent looks.

“You know, I could pick individual plays and say we should’ve gotten this 3 or we should’ve shot-faked there but, for the most part, I thought we got the looks that we like, and we got to the spots that we like. And, except for Cam and then Will in the first half, it just seemed like we couldn’t put it in the hole. That makes it tough.”

Bryant shot just 31 percent from the field (17 of 55) including that 1 for 11 frustration in the fourth quarter.

The Hornets missed their first eight shots of the game. Fortunately, Central only managed a 4-0 lead to that point. Hunter hit a jumper in the lane then, off a Warren miss, Bryant missed two more shots as they started the game like they ended it, going 1 for 11.

After a 3 by Grant Miller for Central, Diggins got loose inside for back-to-back baskets. Hudson Likens hit a free throw but Hunter drove for a bucket and the game was tied 8-8 going into the final two minutes of the first quarter.

But the Tigers scored the next 9 points. Hunter found Diggins again in the final seconds as Central took a 17-10 lead into the second period.

The teams traded buckets for most of the second quarter. It was 28-19 going into the final two minutes of the half. Kade Ruffner drove for a layup and Hunter added two free throws to trim the margin to 28-23 at intermission.

Ruffner scored off a feed from Cory Nichols to start the second half. Warren hit a free throw, but Fowler knocked down a pair. A driving jumper by Hunter then had the game tied 29-29.

It was deadlocked at 31, 33 and 38. The Hornets had a chance to take a lead into the fourth quarter but missed a pair of free throws with :02.3 left on the clock.

Bryant has three more games left in the regular season and has the inside track for the third seed from the Central Conference. They host Little Rock Southwest on Friday then travel to Cabot and Conway to close out the regular season.

“We’ll just get back to work tomorrow and try to build it back up and hope we get to see (Central) again down the road,” Abrahamson concluded.


Score by quarters

BRYANT           10        13        15        5 — 43

LR Central       17        11        10        18 — 56

HORNETS (15-4, 7-4) 43

Fowler 0-4 2-2 2, Nichols 1-4 0-4 2, Ruffner 2-10 0-0 4, Hunter 7-14 6-7 20, Diggins 4-8 1-1 9, Schroeder 0-1 0-0 0, Adams 0-2 0-0 0, Brunson 0-1 0-0 0, George 2-6 0-0 4, Newburn 1-5 0-0 2. Totals 17-55 (31%) 9-14 (64%) 43.

TIGERS (18-4, 10-1) 56

Hudson 1-3 2-2 4, Miller 1-2 0-0 3, Likens 1-5 1-2 4, Warren 7-13 3-6 20, Camper 4-12 1-2 9, Robinson 3-8 2-2 10, Boateng 3-3 0-0 6. Totals 20-46 (43%) 9-14 (64%) 56.

Three-point field goals: Bryant 0-16 (Ruffner 0-6, Hunter 0-4, Adams 0-2, George 0-2, Fowler 0-1, Newburn 0-1). Turnovers: Bryant 8, LR Central 12. Rebounds: Bryant 11-20 31 (Hunter 2-10 12, Ruffner 1-3 4, Diggins 2-2 4, Nichols 2-1 3, Fowler 1-1 2, Brunson 0-2 2, Adams 1-0 1, team 2-1 3), LR Central 7-28 35 (Hudson 3-5 8, Boateng 1-7 8, Warren 1-5 6, Camper 0-5 5, Likens 2-1 3, Robinson 0-2 2, Miller 0-1 1, team 0-2 2). Team fouls: Bryant 15, LR Central 13.

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